Wellington Scoop

Diary of a World War One soldier wins top children’s book prize

Press Release – NZ Post Children’s Book Awards

The true story of a World War l Kiwi soldier has won the country’s highest honour in children’s writing at the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

Nice Day for a War, by author Matt Elliot and illustrated by Chris Slane was awarded the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year at a ceremony held in Wellington. The book is based on the original diaries of Elliot’s grandfather, Corporal Cyril Elliot.

Nice Day for a War is a stand-out book which offers young readers an honest glimpse into the lives of soldiers during World War I,” says Gillian Candler, the Awards Convenor of Judges.

“The beautiful fluid line drawings and muted watercolour washes bring the diary to life. The interplay between the illustrations and text creates a powerful, emotionally engaging story for young readers.

“The judging panel are delighted to award it the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year for 2012,” Gillian Candler added.

A picture book, The Cat’s Pyjamas by first time published writer and illustrator Catherine Foreman, won the coveted 2012 Children’s Choice Award. The award is heralded as a significant indicator of audience opinion. The book’s main character enchanted children throughout New Zealand with his colourful collection of pyjamas; one for everyday of the week.

Debut writer Leonie Agnew not only took this year’s Best First Book Award but also won the Junior Fiction category for her novel Super Finn.

“The characters in Super Finn are incredibly funny and thoroughly believable. This book touches the heart and the funny bone. The judges couldn’t ask for more,” says Gillian Candler.

The Young Adult Fiction category award went to Calling the Gods by Wellington author Jack Lasenby. Calling the Gods was praised by the judges as a masterful work that transcends genre and can be read with pleasure at many levels.

Rāhui by Wellington writer Chris Szekely and illustrated by Malcolm Ross won the Picture Book category. The book has two language editions: Te Reo Māori and English.

“Both versions of this beautiful book have a timeless quality, with the story dealing sensitively with the sad drowning of a cousin,” Gillian Candler said.

The judging panel, which also included children’s bookseller Annemarie Florian and author and illustrator Bob Kerr were impressed how each of this year’s finalists provoke thought and said they will help young people better understand both themselves and others.

“It was a pleasure selecting the winners of the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. We read aloud, laughed, were intrigued and held in suspense. And we empathised. This year’s finalists all feature strong stories that hold the reader, skilful language and illustration, and engaging themes,” Gillian Candler added.

The 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards winners are:

New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year
Nice Day for a War by Matt Elliott and illustrated by Chris Slane (HarperCollins Publishers)

Children’s Choice Award
The Cat’s Pyjamas by Catherine Foreman (Scholastic New Zealand)

Best First Book Award
Super Finn by Leonie Agnew (Scholastic New Zealand)

Picture Book category
Rahui (Maori version) by Chris Szekely translated by Brian Morris and illustrated by Malcolm Ross (Huia Publishers)
Rahui (English version) by Chris Szekely and illustrated by Malcolm Ross (Huia Publishers)

Honour Award
Shaolin Burning by Ant Sang (HarperCollins Publishers)

Non-Fiction category
Nice Day for a War by Matt Elliott and illustrated by Chris Slane (HarperCollins Publishers)

Honour Award
Digging Up The Past: Archaeology For The Young & Curious by David Veart (Auckland University Press)

Junior Fiction category
Super Finn by Leonie Agnew (Scholastic New Zealand)

Honour Award
The Travelling Restaurant by Barbara Else (Gecko Press)

Young Adult Fiction category
Calling the Gods by Jack Lasenby (HarperCollins Publishers)

Honour Award
The Bridge by Jane Higgins (Text Publishing Company)

Each Category Award winner received $7,500. The winner of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year Award took home an extra $7,500. The winner of the Best First Book Award and the Children’s Choice Award received prize money of $2,000 each.

Each Honour Award recipient received $500. Honour Awards are discretionary and are awarded in recognition of particular features in a book.

New Zealand Post is proud to be principal sponsor of the New Zealand Book Awards and the Children’s Book Awards. New Zealand Post is committed to promoting and assisting literacy in our communities and supporting excellence in literature, and to actively encouraging New Zealanders to read and enjoy books. Additional funding for the Awards is provided by Creative New Zealand.

The Awards are overseen by the New Zealand Post Book Awards Governance Group, administered by Booksellers NZ and including representatives of the New Zealand Society of Authors, The Publishers Association of New Zealand, New Zealand Post and Creative New Zealand.

Press Release – New Holland Publishers
New Holland Publishers continues to cement itself firmly as a tastemaker in local children’s non-fiction, as New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis won the coveted Children’s Choice award in the non-fiction category at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book awards in Wellington last night.

Author and finalist Maria Gill’s writing style and inspiring collection of potted biographies on 50 great New Zealanders proved the most popular amongst young readers in the non-fiction category, trumping the overall winner of the awards, and the judges’ pick (Kiwi Soldier in World War l), also in the non-fiction section.

Being established as the children’s clear favourite as a non-fiction read is a mark of the highest calibre and can be seen as the classroom popularity contest; a reflection of what both young boys and girls are enjoying reading today.

Maria Gill is delighted to have co-authored the popular book, New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis, with Bruce Potter, with his lifelike caricatures illustrating Maria’s profiles of New Zealand’s world-famous musicians, artists, sports stars and inventors.

“Bruce Potter and I were thrilled to receive the Children’s Choice Award for non-fiction. They are our target audience so it means a lot when they pick your book as their favourite. It certainly has been popular when we’ve visited schools.”

For two months from the end of February to April, children voted on their favourite reads on-line at www.nzpostbookawards.co.nz or by voting cards in their schools, local libraries or bookstores.

New Zealand Hall of Fame also features on the Storylines Notable Books List 2012, selected by a panel of current children’s literature professionals.

The Awards:
• The annual children’s awards celebrate the best of our home-grown writing talent in four major categories, Picture book, non-fiction, junior fiction and young adult fiction (as well a Māori Language Award for books written in Te Reo.
• The finalists were selected from more than 130 children’s books published in New Zealand in 2011 and submitted for the awards.
• New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2012 Judges: Julia Chandler, Annemarie Florian, Bob Kerr
• News on the awards were trending on twitter: #nzpcba
• For a full list of the judges’ winners, click http://ow.ly/aXDCx
• For photos from the event, click http://ow.ly/aXB5S Photo of Maria: http://tiny.cc/ujifew Photo of Maria & Bruce: http://tiny.cc/kmifew

New Holland books from Maria Gill currently in print:
• Eruption: Discovering New Zealand’s Volcanoes by Maria Gill, RRP $21.00, to be published July 2012
• Call of the Kokako by Maria Gill, illustrated by Heather Arnold, RRP $29.99, published June 2011
• New Zealand Hall of Fame by Maria Gill, illustrated by Bruce Potter, RRP $34.99, published May 2011
• Save Our Seas: Continuing the mission of the adventurer Sir Peter Blake by Maria Gill, illustrated by Vivienne Lingard, RRP $21.00, published June 2009
• Eco-Rangers Save the Planet by Maria Gill, illustrated by Vivienne Lingard, RRP $19.99, October 2009

Maria Gill www.mariagill.co.nz/
Maria Gill writes children’s non-fiction often with an environmental message. She has had seven books published, including New Zealand Hall of Fame and The Call of the Kokako with New Holland. Both books feature on the Storylines Notable Books List 2012. Maria writes full-time from her lifestyle block in Matakana and regularly visits schools and libraries around the country promoting New Zealand Books. Her website www.mariagill.co.nz provides teacher’s notes and other valuable resources.

Bruce Potter
Bruce Potter is an international award-winning illustrator of nearly 100 books. His Whale Rider (illustrated edition) has been translated into many languages. Bruce is known for his realistic style and fine detail but he also has a background in cartooning and caricature for a number of newspapers around the world.